Centre National de la Cinématographie
Now Showing at: Cincinnati World Cinema on Sunday, November 29 and Tuesday, December 01
Review by: Larry Thomas
One of the final films in Cincinnati World Cinema’s series comes from Indonesia carrying the rather generic title The Photograph. There have been films made from the beginning of the medium about two lonely people with nothing in common forming a bond to improve their quality of life.
Sita is a young mother who works as a prostitute to support her daughter and grandmother, who live out of the city, away from the grit and poverty of urban life. She does what’s needed to ensure a better life for those she loves. Her life is not easy, as money is always tight, and she it constantly being bullied by her pimp. Sita works from a karaoke bar and one night is savagely assaulted by a particularly nasty bunch of customers. An aging Chinese photographer comes to her rescue and offers to let Sita move in with him. She will become his assistant in exchange for room and board. He is also anxious to train an apprentice who will carry on his craft once he dies.
This is a humanitarian arrangement, not a sexual one, and it’s interesting to watch these two disparate souls form a familial relationship. The ending is not a surprise given the nature of the story, but the Indonesian actors handle their roles well.
Director Nan Achnas has done her filmmaking homework, earning a degree in Film Studies at the University of East Anglia in the UK, and working as both a film critic and documentary filmmaker. Both of these career paths are evident in The Photograph. Although a fiction film, there are scenes that have the feel of a documentary. And other scenes show the work of an artist whose love of film is evident.
While not the best film of the series, The Photograph is well worth viewing for its overall artistry, in addition to showing a corner of the world most of us will never visit.
The Photograph will have two showings at Covington’s Carnegie Arts Center, on Sunday, November 29th at 6:30 pm, and Tuesday, December 1st at 7:30 pm. There will be a cash bar social hour before the screening, and film discussion following.